Month: September 2019

September 17, 2019

Plan to attend the Congregational Meeting immediately following 11 a.m. worship on Sunday, September 29. At that time, we will vote on nominees to serve as church officers beginning in January and on dissolving the relationship between the Reverend Katherine Kerr and First Presbyterian Church.

Last fall, local counselor and Charlotte Observer contributor Justin Perry came to our church to speak on educational equality in Charlotte as part of our Color and Character book study.  After his presentation, I asked him what he thought was the most important thing we could do to support Westerly Hills Academy. He said, “Watch Resilience.”

We can do what Justin Perry suggested on Sunday, September 22, beginning at 5 p.m. in Wood Fellowship Hall, when we’ll have a free viewing of Resilience. This documentary is about how trauma impacts both our mental and physical health, and how we gain the resilience needed to recover from the trauma.

What, exactly, is trauma? In a brochure from Presbyterian Psychological Services, various experiences that qualify as “trauma” include:

  • Abuse/neglect
  • Incarceration
  • Mental illness or substance abuse in the family
  • Divorce
  • Witnessing domestic violence or a violent crime

My heart sank when I read this list. Here is what those experiences look like in the lives of people I’ve encountered recently through my work here at First Presbyterian:

  • A church member told me that dad was being released from prison soon, and asked for prayers, as they were nervous about the transition.
  • A BELL scholar whispered to me that her family was moving because there were “too many bullets” in their neighborhood.
  • Another BELL scholar was late because a man showed up at their house the night before with a gun.
  • A nine-year-old I’ve tutored was dropped off at his dad’s house by his mother, who said, “I’m done with him” and never returned.
  • Many young scholars and students I’ve tutored that have brothers and sisters who have died.

There are experiences on this list that many of us will never have to deal with. But there are plenty that we do experience, despite our “privileged” status:  substance abuse, mental illness, physical and emotional abuse, divorce. When it comes to traumatic experiences, Father Gregory Boyle’s words come to mind: “There is no us and them.  There is only us.”

Marc Dickmann, who is currently the Director of Education for Freedom Communities and has been a longtime west Charlotte advocate, told me recently that  he thought the biggest need in west Charlotte was “trauma support.”

Watching Resilience together on Sunday evening is a great place to begin understanding this piece of the equation called trauma and how we can care for one another, for our community and ourselves.

– Heather Herring, Child & Family Partnership Coordinator

Details: Sign up here for the free documentary, accompanied by a light meal, on Sunday, September 22, 5 p.m. The movie is suitable for middle school youth through adults. An elementary program, Identifying Emotions, will be offered concurrently. Preschool care will be provided at no cost but registration is required. We will also have the opportunity following the film to be part of small group conversations led by experts in outreach and advocacy, understanding stress, mindfulness and meditation and movement as a stress buster.


September 16, 2019

Starting September 17 and continuing through the end of the year, Tuesday Morning Bible Study will be at Myers Park United Methodist Church. The class will return to First Presbyterian in January. Contact Garrell Keesler ( with questions.

Taiwo Jaiyeoba, Director of Planning, Design and Development for the City of Charlotte, comes to First Presbyterian on Sunday, November 3. Join us as we embrace the needs of our city and discern the direction of our ministry over the next 20 years in this free program.

Jaiyeoba will share the status of the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan. The plan will guide what projects the city approves, where development can occur, and what neighborhoods will look like at the end of the next stage of the city’s growth. It will also help define what Charlotte aspires to be. The program and dinner will be in Wood Fellowship Hall, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Registration will begin in October. Programming for children and youth, as well as nursery care, will be available.

Before coming to Charlotte in 2018, Jaiyeoba worked as a consultant and planner for cities in Botswana, as well as Sacramento, California, and Atlanta. A native of Nigeria who came to the U.S. in 1996, he is charged with planning how to handle Charlotte’s growth.

Young adults are invited to come out for the first Young Adult Happy Hour at Town Brewing Company, 800 Grandin Road, on the second Wednesday in October, 5–7:30 p.m. Children are welcome.

September 11, 2019

September 9, 2019

Traffic Updates

The City of Charlotte has communicated to us that portions of Trade Street between Tryon and Graham streets will be closed at various times throughout the fall, including intersections at Church, Poplar and Pine streets.

As street construction is a fluid process, there is no way to know from day to day whether a given street or intersection will be open to traffic. Please use your preferred app for navigating traffic or refer to the City’s website if you wish to use Trade Street or those intersections.

Church staff will not have the most current information and will not be able to map out routes for us.

The church will work to minimize congestion during school drop-off and pick-up hours. It will also step up measures to assure that church parking during this time is reserved for those who are here on church business.

Thank you for your patience over the next few months.

Fellowship Feasts are small groups of 10-12 people (couples and singles, young and old) that gather regularly in fellowship, and we will start a new batch of groups this fall. The nature and location of the gathering are up to the group – pizza and football, a formal dinner at someone’s home, bowling, whatever appeals to the group. The hope is that by being introduced to a new small group of church members, we may strengthen our ties to one another and grow in faith and fellowship.  If you are interested in hearing more about this opportunity or want to join a group in the fall, please email Mary Margaret Porter.

Purchase items for Communities in Schools to use throughout the school year as they support children and families at Westerly Hills Academy, as well as classroom supplies and staff appreciation for Lakewood Preschool.  Details at the sign up.  Items may be placed in the shopping cart in the hallway behind the sanctuary.

Eighth graders who are interested in confirmation should contact Elizabeth Cook ( or Natalie Raygor ( about participating.

An initial meeting for youth, parents and sponsors will be Sunday, September 15, in Wood Fellowship Overflow at 10 a.m. The Confirmation Retreat will be offsite on November 22-24.